When my uncle Lutz Kayser died in 2017, he left many stories of his life untold. He was one of the great pioneers of what we today call NewSpace, but he did it all in the early 1970s. And my childhood was full of real-world stories of space exploration.
There is a funny thing about being a child. As a kid, you think all the things around you are normal. You don’t realize that, maybe, folks are doing things that are quite uncommon. Like crowdsourcing a rocket company (by raising the equivalent of hundreds of millions of EUR from thousands of you-and-me investors), or attempting to build a private reusable launch system competing with US and Russian launchers (but out of commonly available components), or trying to create an African Cape Kennedy (by leasing a piece of land as big as Austria in the middle of Congo and creating a launch site there).
All these things were quite normal to me as a kid. So I missed the opportunity to ask all the questions that I should have had.
I looked at the pictures of rockets launches and said what kids say: “Oh cool!”
Boy would the 46 year old in me like to ask all the questions I have now.
Fortunately, before Lutz passed away in the US Marshall Islands, German Filmmaker Oliver Schwehm discovered his untold story and made a wonderful movie out of it, Fly Rocket Fly. It tells the, sometimes absurdly naïve, yet absolutely thrilling story of Lutz’ rocket company OTRAG. I had the great pleasure to watch the premiere in a cinema in Munich, together with a lot of old OTRAG staff and my cousins Uta and Ludwig, his children.
I learned many new facts I never knew for lack of asking. And I think the message that all of us can take home from it, is, while there is no guarantee that you will succeed, it is clearly amazing how far you can go, just through the power of imagination and perseverance.
Update 2021: The movie is now available on DVD as well as Amazon Prime and iTunes. In some countries it is also available on Vimeo.
About Lin Kayser
Lin is the co-founder and CEO of the Hyperganic Group. His entrepreneurial journey stretches back to the early 1990s and covers areas as diverse as industrial control systems and transforming Hollywood from analog to digital.
This is his personal blog which contains many posts that pre-date Hyperganic. His views are his own.